Building a super-app platform for your business operations

In today’s time-starved society, convenience sells. Take Grab, for example. The ride-hailing company gained popularity when it expanded its platform to become “your everyday, everything app”, offering a variety of services ranging from food delivery and e-wallet to hotel booking and insurance.

Such multi-app platforms are powerful tools for business-to-consumer (B2C) companies, allowing consumers to access different product and service offerings with just one click.

The process of bringing applications together and having them communicate and share data with each other on a single platform is known as platformisation; the same concept can be applied to business-to-business (B2B) companies. Imagine having your sales figures for the month, account payables and receivables, payroll documents and inventory tools laid out in a single, clean interface, ready for viewing in real time and whenever you want, giving you in essence the single source of truth about your business financial health and performance.

In today’s fast-paced world, platformisation offers business owners and their advisors the advantage of swifter decision-making abilities through greater visibility and control over the operations. Having all the different functions that underpin the smooth running of a business under one roof, businesses of all sizes are able to scale at ease and identify areas for growth.

Leveraging the power of business platforms, cloud accounting softwares like Xero put your invoicing, payment, banking and many other business processes via app integration onto a shared platform so that you can view, organise and access them all in one place. More importantly, as the processes incorporate latest technology such as artificial intelligence, and are able to communicate with each other, the use of Xero applications will facilitate automation and eliminate repetitive work. This frees up staff for more value-added tasks.

Xero enables you to have the status of your business operations — from cashflow to sales figures and inventory movement — laid out on a single interface, ready for viewing in real time whenever you want. PHOTO: XERO

Keeping your processes lean

Businesses that are still operating on manual sales processes are losing time and money on tedious work processes. This can be easily resolved with cloud accounting platforms like Xero. Because of the shared database, inventory items can be easily imported and used to complete an invoice or bill transaction with just a click on the code. This will automatically generate fields such as description and unit price. There is also the option of replicating or repeating previous invoices. Instead of spending time typing row after row of sales items, accountants can have more time to complete higher value work such as financial analysis that can help to drive the business in the right direction.

With digitalisation comes ease of access, which may raise certain fears about cyber security. Most cloud accounting platforms, like Xero, have appropriate controls in place. This means that only authorised personnel would have access to edit the invoice, and edits are tracked and automatically recorded in the system for transparency. For service providers such as consultants and IT managed service providers who are working on the go, Xero also enables you to generate invoices effortlessly on your phone or tablet and send it out to your client as soon as the job is completed.

Many businesses, especially smaller ones, often encounter issues with the collection of payment. With Xero, business owners can leverage the use of digital invoices to issue invoices promptly and integrate payment provider applications to facilitate immediate payment. A “Pay now” icon makes payment convenient and easy, encouraging clients to close the transaction as soon as they receive the invoice. Additional features that make payment an effortless experience include the plethora of payment options such as debit and credit cards, PayPal and Stripe accounts. In the event that outstanding payments persist, Xero will send automated reminders to clients, saving you the trouble of chasing outstanding invoices.

With integrated cloud accounting platforms, even complicated and manual tax filing processes can be automated to save time. The tax filing function enables different kinds of revenue and expenditure to be automatically categorised on a daily basis so that the accounts would be in order and ready for submission when the tax filing deadlines approach.

An integrated platform tailored for business leaders

Apart from key business functions such as invoicing and payroll, stakeholders can leverage the myriad of business applications on the Xero marketplace to streamline the business process and workflow. The Xero app marketplace houses over 800 app partners to offer various business applications that can be integrated into — and synced with — your business.

Having a cloud accounting software that is connected to the rest of your business applications can be very helpful, especially for business leaders. The shared database enables your bank, payroll and sales transactions to be fed to the accounts instantaneously, which allows for a real-time view of the cashflow movements and company’s liquidity status. Easy-to-read charts can also be retrieved any time if adverse situations call for quick decision-making.

Retail companies can leverage the inventory management applications to track inventory as they buy and sell, while e-commerce businesses can benefit from applications that will help to manage online orders and valuable customer data.

Across the industries, business leaders can use the financial analysis, management reporting and performance report tools to gather a comprehensive understanding of how the business is doing. If needed, alternative financing options are within reach at the marketplace.

Digitalisation can be seamless, easy and rewarding in the long run. In this case, orchestrating your most important business applications to work in harmony using Xero can be a great start to bringing your business to the next level.

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